The War on Science?!

Popular Canadian YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE has a video going around this week entitled “The War on Science”. It rightly calls out worrying trends such as the dismissal by many of the overwhelming evidence for human-caused global warming, the thoroughly debunked and yet persistent myth that vaccines cause autism, the ever-decreasing share of public funds going to scientific research, and the muzzling of public scientists. I love science, I hate all of the misinformation that is spread about climate science and medicine, and I think it is vital for our democracies for scientists to be free to speak about their research however they like.

On the other hand, as a historian and philosopher of science, I cringe at the parade of clichés and dubious claims in this video. There’s the classic “linear model” rhetoric that, although we cannot predict how, basic scientific research will lead to technical progress. There’s the indefensible value-neutrality science “simply adheres to evidence” argument. And the Roman Empire collapsed because… they didn’t pursue scientific research?

I wish HPSers could get together to make a really bang-up viral video that we could all endorse unequivocally, but perhaps it’s the nature of our discipline that this is impossible?


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